Top 10 Safety Tips To Avoid a Slip or Fall in Ice and Snow

In the Pacific Northwest, occasionally we get snow, but other times, we get a lot more ice and rain. In the Fall it is definitely more rainy, but in the Winter, we get cold, sometimes freezing temperatures that turn into ice and an occasional dusting of snow.

Did you know that winter slips and falls may cause serious injuries? Think about this:
Even when surfaces do not look especially icy or slippery, it is very possible that a thin sheet of transparent ice or “Black Ice” is covering your pathway putting you at risk. When you approach a footpath or roadway that appears to be covered with ice or snow, always use extreme caution. The most typical injuries are fractures and dislocations of the wrist, shoulder and ankle.

Many slips and falls happen in places people regard as safe and secure, typically outside their front door, on the door step, on the path or while getting out of the car.
If you are out walking in snow or icy conditions wear appropriate footwear, don’t walk with your hands in your pockets, walk with your hands out and wear gloves so you can break your fall if you do slip. It’s better to have a broken wrist than a cracked skull!

The Road Safety Authority has the following “Top 10 Safety Tips for Pedestrians” to help avoid the possibility of a broken bone that could easily lead to an operation and a long recovery:

1. If a journey cannot be avoided, walk on a footpath, not in the street. If there are no footpaths walk on the right hand side of the road (towards oncoming traffic). Be extremely careful as frost, ice and snow will make walking on footpaths very dangerous.

2. Remember that footpaths may not be treated so walk with extreme care; make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear and in extreme conditions consider an appropriate walking stick or walking pole.

3. Avoid walking in the streets at all costs if possible. Remember, cars and trucks slip and slide, too! If it’s an emergency, and you can’t avoid the street, wear bright or reflective clothing.

4. Visibility is reduced in snowy condition so wear high visibility clothing or carry a flashlight, or some type of reflective light gear similar to the lights that cyclists use at night.

5. Wear clothing that does not restrict your vision. Stay warm, but DO NOT impair your vision with hoodies, ski masks, scarves, hats, etc. This type of clothing could prevent you from spotting icy conditions that may lead to a fall or not enable you to see a car that is spinning out of control.

6. Snow and ice cause havoc quickly, so use extra caution when crossing roadways, and always cross at pedestrian crossings.

7. Ice can easily hide under a light dusting of snow. Just because you don’t see the ice doesn’t mean it’s not there waiting for your unsuspecting footfalls.

8. If you can’t avoid the ice and snow, bend your knees slightly and take slower, shorter steps to help reduce the chance of a slip and fall and an injury.

9. If forced to use the steps at someone’s home, apartment, or other public building, walk slow and take shorter steps when descending. The same is true of driveways and other hilly terrain; these areas can be very dangerous when they become slippery with ice or snow. Steps especially can be hard to clear and build up ice easily.

10. Be aware of overhead hazards! Falling icicles and chunks of snow pose a serious risk. In extreme cold weather icicles can build up in size very quickly and are lethal. Their size and dagger-like formation are extremely dangerous for pedestrians. Be aware of what’s happening above you, and stay clear from the edges of buildings.

Carving Safety Tips for this Holiday Season

Carving article photoThanksgiving is just around the corner and almost everyone is planning a big feast, strategizing for the family football rematch, watching the Macy’s Day parade and of course, NFL football on TV.

With all these things going on in one day, there is no bigger star than the Thanksgiving turkey as it is paraded from the kitchen into the dining room where someone will be carving the revered bird. This holiday season, Orthopedic Specialists would like to caution all the carvers out there as they carve the main course and not their hands.

People sustain hand injuries during Thanksgiving and the entire holiday season. When friends and family are watching you as you carve the turkey, you may feel a little overwhelmed, so focus; don’t let your turkey day celebrations go fowl this year because of a hand injury.

Safety Tips for Thanksgiving Feast

Follow these easy tips and get your bird on the table in time so guests can start gobbling:

  1. Never cut towards yourself. One slip of the knife can cause a horrific injury. While carving a turkey or cutting a pumpkin your free hand should be placed opposite the side you are carving towards. Don’t place your hand underneath the blade to catch the slice of meat.
  2. Keep your cutting area well-lit and dry. Good lighting will help prevent an accidental cut of the finger and making sure your cutting surface is dry will prevent ingredients from slipping while chopping.
  3. Keep your knife handles dry. A wet handle can prove slippery and cause your hand to slip down onto the blade resulting in a nasty cut.
  4. Keep all cutting utensils sharp. A sharp knife will never need to be forced to cut, chop, carve or slice. A knife too dull to cut properly is still sharp enough to cause an injury.
  5. Use an electric knife to ease the carving of the turkey or ham.
  6. Use kitchen sheers to tackle the job of cutting bones and joints.
  7. Leave meat and pumpkin carving to the adults. Children have not yet developed the dexterity skills necessary to safely handle sharp utensils.
  8. Lastly, should you cut your finger or hand, bleeding from minor cuts will often stop on their own by applying direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth.

Visit an emergency room or a hand surgeon if:

  1. Continuous pressure does not stop the bleeding after 15 minutes
  2. You notice persistent numbness or tingling in the fingertip
  3. You are unsure of your tetanus immunization status
  4. You are unable to thoroughly cleanse the wound by rinsing with a mild soap and plenty of clean water

Dr. Weil states, “I often see patients whose holiday season has been ruined by an accident in the kitchen. The most common kitchen injuries that I treat are lacerations. Lacerations sustained while carving pumpkins, turkeys, and other holiday fare can be quite serious. These injuries can include cut nerves, arteries and tendons. These types of injuries require immediate surgical management to restore function. Treatment can include microscope assisted nerve repairs, artery repairs, and tendon repairs. If you sustain a laceration where you lose sensation to your finger or hand or are unable to bend your finger please seek medical treatment immediately.”

These simple tips will help you enjoy that bird and the rest of your holiday season. If you would like more information on specialty care of the hand, call Orthopedic Specialists and make an appointment with one of our expert, orthopedic doctors at (206) 633-8100.

Fall Clean-Up and Rake Safety

Fall is a beautiful time of the year when the leaves turn color and in the Pacific Northwest, it is sometimes also wet because of the rain. Preparation and taking a common-sense approach to raking the beautiful leaves is important and raking requires a number of different activities, including twisting, bending, lifting, and reaching, that use several different muscle groups. Improper use of lawn tools along with the potential for tool-related accidents further compounds the risk of injury to the bones and muscles.

Fall leaves and Rake
Raking leaves is a vigorous exercise, and you need to warm up for at least 10 minutes with some stretching and light exercise. You also need to:

Do some form of light exercise (such as walking) for 10 minutes to warm up the muscles before raking or other yard clean-up

Use a rake that’s comfortable for your height and strength. Wear gloves or use rakes with padded handles to prevent blisters. If you have a rake that is too short you will have to bend over which will cause strain on your back. It is the repetitive movement in raking, not the weight that can strain the muscle.

Don’t wear hats or scarves that interfere with vision and beware of large rocks, low branches, trees stumps and uneven surfaces.

Alternate your leg and arm positions often. When you pick up piles of leaves, bend at the knees, not the waist. Use your legs to shift your weight rather than twisting your back. Do not throw leaves over your shoulder or to the side while raking as this involves twisting movements that can overly strain the muscles in your back. As a reminder from Dr. Shapiro, “Take care of your shoulders and use more bags, filled ¾ full. Lifting and throwing heavy, wet bags is a common way to hurt your shoulders and neck.”

Wet leaves can be slippery. Wear shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles.

Don’t overfill leaf bags, especially if the leaves are wet. To avoid back injury, you should be able to carry the bags comfortably.

When raking, don’t throw leaves over your shoulder or to the side, because that kind of twisting motion places too much stress on the back.

Don’t overdo it. Raking is an aerobic activity – you may need to take frequent breaks or slow your pace if you are an infrequent exerciser.

If you do experience a new strain or sprain, proper care can be easily remembered by using the acronym, RICE:

  • Rest (minimize movement of the injured body part)
  • Ice (apply a cold pack)
  • Compression (light pressure wrap to the affected body part can help minimize leakage of blood and swelling)
  • Elevation (raise the body part up so that the pressure from the blood and tissue swelling the affected area is reduced as the fluids drain from the area by gravity)

If you do experience an injury during your Fall clean-up, call Orthopedic Specialists of Seattle and make an appointment to see one of our expert doctors.